SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Looking to sell bitcoin? It's complicated

You can learn a lot about yourself by how you trade bitcoin. In my case, I was reminded that my appetite for risk rou...

Posted: Dec 13, 2017 9:28 AM
Updated: Dec 13, 2017 9:28 AM

You can learn a lot about yourself by how you trade bitcoin. In my case, I was reminded that my appetite for risk rounds down to zero.

On Monday, a little more than a week after buying $100 worth of bitcoin to distract myself at an airport, I decided I'd had enough. Every hour, both day and night, brought wild price fluctuations.

A friend strongly warned me to move my bitcoin to an alternative digital wallet to avoid being hacked after publishing an article about my holdings. And the sage advice of my two investment gurus -- Warren Buffett and my wife -- continued to ring in my ear: "stay away."

But the only thing more nerve-racking than buying bitcoin right now may be trying to get your money out.

The same surge in demand for bitcoin that has caused the price to spike from $1,000 at the start of this year to more than $17,000 this week has also put a strain on various bitcoin exchanges, causing sudden outages.

I experienced this firsthand on Monday when using Coinbase, a leading service for trading bitcoin. The exchange suffered a brief crash just as I was gearing up to sell.

Coinbase reminded its users of this risk last week on the day it became the most popular app in the U.S. "Access to Coinbase services may become degraded or unavailable during times of significant volatility or volume," the startup wrote in a cautionary blog post. "This could result in the inability to buy or sell for periods of time."

Worse still: the skyrocketing price and interest in bitcoin has made it a greater target for attacks. Bitfinex, another large bitcoin exchange, said Tuesday it was trying to deal with a "heavy DDOS" attack.

Related: I bought $250 in bitcoin. Here's what I learned

Even when the exchanges are functioning properly, selling can be stressful.

Once Coinbase recovered from its outage, I watched as the price shot up above $17,000, approaching a new high. I took that as a sign to sell. But actually submitting the transaction can feel like rolling the dice. Wait 30 seconds (or if the app is simply slow to load) and the price may rise or fall hundreds of dollars.

For those who own large sums of bitcoin, there's an added complication: Services like Coinbase impose varying weekly buy and sell limits to protect accounts. But the limits, which can be as low as $2,500, may make it hard to dump all your holdings at once.

Or as the company put it in the blog post last week, "Due to the rapidly changing price of digital currencies, some customers may not have sell limits that are sufficient relative to the value of total digital currency they are storing on Coinbase."

And then there are the delays. Several days after I bought the original $100 worth of bitcoin, I purchased another $150 worth before deciding to put an end to my brief life as a bitcoin trader. It took a full week for the first transaction to go through. The second transaction is still pending.

Put another way: If the price of bitcoin were to plunge 50% this afternoon and I wanted to sell, I would be unable to sell the second batch I'd purchased because technically I still don't have it.

As for that original $100, I ended up netting about $50 in profit after various fees for buying and selling. When that money finally hits my bank account on Friday, I intend to take my wife out to a dinner to make up to her for all the bitcoin talk this month.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48626

Reported Deaths: 2717
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11723689
Lake5212244
Elkhart332051
Allen2815132
St. Joseph198168
Cass16399
Hamilton1596101
Hendricks1414100
Johnson1288117
Porter73637
Tippecanoe7279
Madison66364
Clark66044
Bartholomew58944
Howard58057
LaPorte57926
Vanderburgh5706
Kosciusko5564
Marshall4926
Noble48428
Jackson4723
LaGrange4719
Delaware45050
Boone44943
Hancock44935
Shelby43025
Floyd38244
Morgan32931
Monroe30128
Montgomery29720
Grant29526
Clinton2892
Dubois2836
Henry28016
White26510
Decatur25532
Lawrence24625
Vigo2368
Dearborn23323
Warrick22129
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1842
Jennings17612
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14717
Wayne1426
Orange13523
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1227
Jasper1212
Wabash1132
Carroll1102
Fayette1017
Newton9910
Whitley965
Starke933
Gibson872
Randolph804
Huntington782
Wells751
Jefferson722
Fulton711
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey440
Spencer411
Blackford392
Brown391
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland270
Martin230
Parke230
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 58904

Reported Deaths: 2970
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10587431
Cuyahoga8048379
Hamilton6158204
Lucas2788303
Marion273439
Pickaway220141
Summit2175207
Montgomery213431
Mahoning1849238
Butler163747
Columbiana130660
Stark1133113
Lorain105167
Trumbull97473
Warren88124
Clark7729
Delaware58815
Fairfield58516
Tuscarawas56810
Belmont55422
Medina53632
Lake50819
Licking49612
Miami47231
Portage44959
Ashtabula43644
Wood43651
Clermont4226
Geauga40843
Wayne36352
Richland3475
Allen32341
Mercer2879
Greene2769
Darke25326
Erie24622
Holmes2393
Huron2232
Madison1999
Ottawa15024
Sandusky13714
Crawford1365
Washington13520
Ross1303
Putnam12915
Coshocton1272
Hardin12312
Morrow1171
Auglaize1074
Jefferson912
Monroe8917
Union891
Muskingum861
Hancock791
Hocking788
Preble781
Guernsey743
Lawrence720
Williams722
Shelby694
Clinton680
Logan641
Athens631
Fulton620
Ashland601
Carroll593
Wyandot595
Brown581
Knox521
Defiance513
Fayette460
Highland451
Scioto450
Champaign411
Van Wert380
Perry351
Seneca342
Henry300
Paulding260
Adams241
Jackson240
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia181
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Angola
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Huntington
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Decatur
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
Van Wert
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Hot with storms Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events